I picked the name “little sea witch” for a reason.
I grew up in the forest. Well- I grew up in the suburbs, but my backyard edged up to a (small) state forest and my childhood home is so densely surrounded by trees that you can’t even see the house from the street. The yard, front and back, is bathed in shade almost the entire day long. I spent my summers barefoot, climbing trees and rocks and splashing through tiny streams. My stepfather’s family has lived in the area since they emigrated from Poland and the Ukraine, one and two generations ago respectively, and like most assimilating immigrants they adopted the Traditional American Ideal of Putting Down Roots. During the period that my peers were all in college, I flirted indecisively between career paths; just pick one they urged me, just pick one and stick with it. My mother’s family wasn’t quite so concerned- they had drifted to the other side of the continent and back in their youth- but reassured me that eventually the winds would drop me somewhere I liked, and my roots would reach deep.
There is a forest in my heart, of tall trees and shallow streams and winding stone walls slowly being reclaimed by moss and earth. I will always find comfort there.
But even my name shows that I am not truly part of the forest. The juniper is not a forest plant, not really. It is hardy and slow growing, twisted by sharp winds; it survives in damaged, eroded land where other trees can’t. It’s the beginning of the forest, the first step. But inside the forest, in healthy soil, amongst other plants? It grows as a small and scrubby sort of shrub. Its berries and wood have their uses, but within the forest, the juniper isn’t much to look at.
There is a forest in my heart, but I belong to the sea.
My family jokes that I was too busy with my head in the clouds as a child to hear them, but they were wrong. I’ve wasted so many years, thinking I needed to find the right soil, to find my right place and dig deep. I think the reality of what I need is a current: continuous movement in a unifying theme that will let me touch many shores. I need to travel, I need to explore, I need to seek. I need to follow the flow of my attention and my desires. I need to accept that I will never be wholly myself in the forest; I will never be nourished in one soil and actually flourish.
I must embrace the sea, all tides and currents and waves. I must remember that while I may look repetitively restless to others, I am much more than my surface. I need neither anchor nor roots nor wings. I just need to relax, go with the flow, and be pleasantly, perpetually, adrift.